Maleficent’s powerful presence is the only thing keeping audiences out of an Aurora-like slumber as characters return for Disney’s second installment of the series.
Directed by Joachim Rønning and produced by Walt Disney Pictures, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” tells the story of Maleficent, the villain from the original “Sleeping Beauty.” Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning reprise their roles as Maleficent and Aurora, while Michelle Pfeiffer and Chiwetel Ejiofor join the cast as Queen Ingrith and Conall.
Plenty of Angelina Jolie close-ups showcase her facial expressions, and occasional acts of kindness toward Aurora satisfy the audience’s expectations for Maleficent to be both cold and caring. This dynamic gives her character more dimension than some counterparts, such as Aurora and Queen Ingrith, who remain static and fail to grow throughout the film.
The story wasted too much time on Aurora and her continued naivety toward the Queen’s actions, ultimately leaving the audience wanting more from the titular character. Many opportunities for expansion on Maleficent’s complex backstory weren’t addressed in the film.
The plots of both Maleficent films revolve around people misunderstanding the character and refusing to view her as a protector rather than simply a “Mistress of Evil,” which is incredibly frustrating. While her character development was intriguing, it is almost a rehashing of the first movie. Maleficent enters the sequel with bitter attributes after showing signs of warmth and love at the end of the first movie. The same arc was repeated instead of expanding on her existing development.
Michell Pfeiffer is a convincing and hate-filled Ingrith, Prince Phillip’s mother and queen of the kingdom neighboring Aurora’s own. However, that is all she is. This is contradictory considering the purpose of the film is to show how an antagonist can have a backstory that provides context to their actions, even though they may not be justified.
The only context provided for the queen’s animosity is half-hearted and not well thought out. Ingrith delivers an underwhelming monologue in which she rants about the hardships that fairies have caused in her life. However, her story is short and boring. A true and compelling motive behind the Queen’s actions would’ve made for a more interesting plot and enhanced her appeal as a character.
Aurora (Fanning) is the most frustrating character on screen. She is the titled Queen of the Moors, but behaves with the naivete of a child. While Queen Ingrith successfully hides her wrongdoings throughout the film, it is odd that Aurora remains clueless for so long. She easily turns against Maleficent, who raised her, for Prince Phillip. The entire conflict of the movie could’ve been solved if Aurora would’ve just opened her eyes to the queen’s obvious vendetta against Maleficent and the Moors. The obvious nature of the solution leaves audiences feeling more and more frustrated with Aurora throughout the movie.
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” delivered beautiful visuals and an intriguing depiction of Maleficent’s powerful presence but lacks in almost every other aspect. The underdeveloped characters and missed plot potential make this just another sequel that didn’t live up to the original.
Rating: 3 fairies out of 5